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Archimedes' principle

Archimedes' principle states that a body immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a

force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid. The principle applies to both floating
and submerged bodies and to all fluids, i.e., liquids and gases. It explains not only the
buoyancy of ships and other vessels in water but also the rise of a balloon in the air
and the apparent loss of weight of objects underwater. In determining whether a given
body will float in a given fluid, both weight and volume must be considered; that is,
the relative density , or weight per unit of volume, of the body compared to the fluid
determines the buoyant force. If the body is less dense than the fluid, it will float or, in
the case of a balloon, it will rise. If the body is denser than the fluid, it will sink.

Relative density also determines the proportion of a floating body that will be
submerged in a fluid. The fluid most often encountered in applications of Archimedes'
principle is water, and the specific gravity of a substance is a convenient measure of
its relative density compared to water. In calculating the buoyant force on a body,
however, one must also take into account the shape and position of the body.

Archimedes' studied the upthrust acting on a body, when it is partially or

completely immersed in a fluid by performing several experiments and then stated the
following principle known as the Archimedes' Principle. According to this principle,
when a body is partially or wholly immersed in a fluid, it experiences an upthrust
(buoyant force) equal to the weight of the liquid displaced.

Factors Affecting the Buoyant Force

We know that when an iron nail is placed on the surface of water it sinks whereas ship
made up of iron floats. This is because size or volume of the ship is more. The iron
nail sinks because the density of iron nail is more than the density of water and
whereas density of the cork is less than that of the water. Thus if the density of the
liquid is more than the density of the material of the body then the body floats due to
the buoyant force exerted by it and vice-versa.

From the above examples we can infer that the buoyant force experienced by a body
when submerged in a liquid depends on the volume of the body and the density of the

Application of Archimedes' Principle

It is used in designing ships and submarines. The lactometers and hydrometers used
for measuring the purity of a sample of milk and for determining the density of the
liquids are based on this principle
Experiment to Verify Archimedes' Principle
Take a clean and dry beaker and find it's mass (m) using a physical balance. Now find
the weight of a stone by suspending it from a spring balance. Fill an Eureka can
(Eureka can is a beaker having a spout near the top) with water filled till the spout.
Place the beaker of mass 'm' under the spout. Gently lower the solid, suspended from
spring balance, into the Eureka can, till the stone is completely immersed in water.

When the stone is immersed in water it displaces a certain amount of water. The
spring balance records lesser value thereby showing that the solid experiences an
upthrust. The displaced water is collected in the beaker. Using the physical balance
the mass of the water and beaker is determined. Let it be m1.

If we compare the apparent loss of weight of the solid in water, with the amount of
water displaced, it is found that they are equal. This experiment thus verifies
Archimedes' Principle.